Ireland to push ahead with EU treaty referendum
Ireland will push ahead with a referendum on the EU fiscal pact.
DUBLIN - Ireland will not defer a referendum on the EU fiscal pact despite calls by French president-elect Francois Hollande to rework the treaty, Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore said on Monday.
Gilmore said Hollande's election victory on Sunday showed there was a new emphasis on growth in the European economy instead of austerity, but he warned that postponing the May 31 plebiscite would put off investors.
Asked by state-run RTE radio if the fact that Hollande has vowed to renegotiate the fiscal pact meant that Ireland should now delay a referendum, Gilmore said: "No we should not."
"If we defer a decision we can expect that people who are thinking of investing in Ireland may defer their decision as well and that's not something that we want," said Gilmore.
Gilmore, who is also foreign minister, was speaking from Paris where he flew on Sunday to congratulate Hollande's Socialist party, a sister organisation of Ireland's Labour party.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Sunday said he hoped Hollande's victory would lead to a shift in focus away from austerity in the European Union.
Germany on Monday ruled out a reworking of the fiscal pact, which was signed by 25 out of 27 member states in March after intense wrangling and which imposes strict budgetary discipline.
Ireland is so far the only EU country to hold a referendum on whether to ratify the treaty.
Gilmore said that he believed Hollande supported budgetary discipline but "what he wants to do, as the Irish government wants to do, is to have that coupled with a growth strategy for Europe."
Gilmore added that the situation in debt-wracked Greece, where parties opposed to its EU- and IMF-led austerity programme stripped the coalition government of its majority on Sunday, was "of great concern."
"Ireland does not want to be like Greece. That is why we have to pursue our strategy to economic recovery which is based on investment, on growth and on the confidence that goes with that," he said.